Alea Homison

Vice President, Sales Enablement, AlphaSense

Sales Enablement vs. Sales Training

Accelerate: In a few sentences tell us what sales enablement means to your organization? 

Alea: Sales Enablement is an intentional investment in the professional development of our sales and service team to accelerate new hire ramp and optimize overall team productivity. 

This is done through a maniacal focus on skill development and mastery every single day – from classroom training, to deal workshops, client call/meeting coaching, best practice sharing, etc.  

Our CRO considers Sales Enablement one of his “secret weapons” as he details in this blog: Secret Weapons in Building a Winning Sales Enterprise Organization

 

Accelerate: What is one enablement tool that is a must-have for your team?  How do you measure its effectiveness on your sales enablement efforts?  

Alea: Hands-down, I believe a conversational intelligence platform is a must-have. The Sales Enablement function cannot scale without it.  

Client call feedback is one of, if not the most, impactful areas of coaching because it is the best opportunity to reinforce all areas of training and development and helps the team move from understanding to implementing.

I measure the value of this tool (we use Chorus) by usage and productivity impact.

 

Accelerate: What makes sales enablement different from traditional training? 

Alea: Sales enablement is different from traditional training in both perspective and execution. 

Sales Enablement professionals must be commercial to be effective. The standard of excellence should be that they could hold a client conversation in the absence of a rep or sales leader. Sales Enablement must know the challenges the org faces in client conversations and be in the field and in the trenches with the team. It’s so important that Sales Enablement’s world is client conversations, not simply the classroom.

While important, great Sales Enablement execution goes well beyond the classroom, playbooks, and reference materials (these are table stakes). Great is joining client meetings and listening to client calls to provide real-world feedback in as real-time as possible. Great is the ability to dissect a deal and add strategic value to deal workshops. 

Sales Enablement is an extension of the CRO and the rest of sales leadership – just as the CRO and other sales leaders should be an extension of Sales Enablement. 

 

Accelerate: When did AlphaSense implement enablement and why do you think they added the position to the company structure? 

Alea: AlphaSense created a Sales Enablement function earlier than I’ve seen most other organizations from a team size perspective. Our CRO made a strategic decision to add Sales Enablement right before an inflection point of growth which gave us time to build out the function in advance of aggressive hiring. It ensured that we didn’t fall into the trap of scaling too fast for the infrastructure we had in place and failing as a result.

Sales Enablement was added to develop a strong foundation for growth, specifically building out and maintaining three programs:

  • New hire onboarding
  • New hire performance ramp
  • Ongoing sales effectiveness

Each of the above has a distinct mandate for talent development and metric of success.

 

Accelerate: How did you get into the enablement field?

Alea: A little bit by chance. I started my career in sales, but had a journey through operations, investment banking, and corporate strategy, before finding my way back to sales.

Understanding how people interpret messaging and how that drives human connection has always been a consistent theme for every role throughout my career, even if it may not seem like that based on my path.  For example, a key reason I did investment banking was to have exposure to C-Suite executives to understand how they think about business operations, how they message their operations to investors, and how the market receives that messaging. It was never about financial engineering for me.

While working in Corporate Strategy, I worked on several sales strategy projects and fell in love with the psychology of sales. I don’t think there is a more valuable and transferable skill set than sales. It’s also incredibly rewarding to see exactly how your work and effort translates to directly to business success.  

I feel blessed to be in the business of human connection.

 

Accelerate: Tell us a little about what you’re looking for in an enablement practitioner as you’re starting to build your team. 

Alea: Someone who is commercial and could be a sales leader or rep, but believes they will have a greater impact on business via the development of best in class coaching, mentorship, and training programs.

The right partner also finds just as much satisfaction in supporting another’s a success, as the would in their own success. 

If you love enablement and are looking for your next opportunity, let’s chat! 

 

Accelerate: What is a tip you have for someone looking to get into the enablement field? 

Alea: My advice for anyone that wants to do anything is to become obsessed with that thing. 

Reach out to Enablement professions to learn how they made the transition and build connections. 

If you haven’t done Enablement in the past, your best path to the role is likely within your own company so raise your hand and be clear about your interest. This will allow you to have a professional development conversation about fit and gaps – and most importantly, you can use this to begin working to close any gaps now so you are positioned for success when opportunities do arise.

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